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Tenofovir (Viread) Tested to Prevent HIV Infection
  Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Feb 5, 2005
David Wahlberg
Approximately 200 gay men in Atlanta will be among the first3,000 people in the world to test a new HIV/AIDS strategy: a pillto prevent HIV infection. This spring, three studies - includingone funded by CDC - will examine whether the drug tenofovir(Viread) can stop HIV from causing infection. Currently used totreat HIV patients, tenofovir works by blocking reversetranscriptase, an enzyme HIV needs for replication.
The $3.5 million CDC study will enroll men who have sex withmen, 200 at the AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta and 200 inSan Francisco. A $6.5 million Bill and Melinda Gates Foundationtrial will involve 1,200 women in Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria,and 400 heterosexual men in Malawi. And a $2.1 million NationalInstitutes of Health trial will include 900 Cambodian women,mostly sex workers.
In each study, half of participants will receive tenofovirand half will receive a placebo. All participants will be advisedto practice safe sex and given condoms. Regimen adherence, sideeffects, viral resistance and high-risk behaviors will all betracked.
Animal studies have suggested tenofovir might prevent HIVinfection. Some doctors have begun prescribing the drug, combinedwith another medicine, as a "morning-after pill" when patientsreport having risky sex. Physicians also note growing street useof tenofovir among gay men as prevention before sex. That is onereason CDC wants to study whether the drug is safe and effectivein HIV-negative people, said Kathryn Bina of CDC's NationalCenter for HIV, STD and TB Prevention.
Experts caution that tenofovir is no magic bullet. It hasside effects, and allowing large numbers of at-risk people totake it intermittently could lead to drug resistance. Some worrythat the security of taking a pill that would not be 100 percenteffective could lead to more high-risk sex or drug use. Takendaily, tenofovir costs about $4,600 a year - $12.67 a day.
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